03/10/2006 02:08 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

I Am A Progressive

I am a progressive. Not a liberal, but a progressive. I think the definition of that word is murky at best. Here's how I see it, why I believe that embracing progressive principles is the best path for America, and why progress needs to become the mantra of the Democratic party.

1. There Are Only Two Choices
You can go forward or you can go backward. Those are the only two choices available. The "safety" in keeping things as is or looking back at the "good old days" only inhibits the ability to move forward and improve. A few examples: a monarchy running America vs. a constitutional democracy; teletype vs. telephone; Jim Crow vs. Civil Rights. It's easy to say "stop" and accept things as they are, but it's objectively better to work towards doing better.

2. America Is Progressive
We've never stood still for any length of time. We told King George to stuff it. Rosa Parks sat in the front of the bus. We went to the moon. We made the personal computer a household appliance. Why in God's name would we stop now? We can do so much more than the great things we've done so far but we have to kick those who would retard our forward momentum aside and resign them to the dustbin of history. It would be un-American not to.

3. Wealth Through Progress
Who do you want to be -- Mr. Potter or George Bailey? We can keep wealth with the miserly few, to be counted again and again by an old cranky crone with a dark heart. Or we can be George Bailey -- the lovable, affable center of the town who never saw a fellow citizen too far down on his luck. The George Baileys invest in our national town because down the line we'll all be hard workers with the kind of money Old Man Potter's got without giving up our souls.

4. Peace & Security, Progress Style
It isn't Vietnam, so quit acting like it. The signs and the vigils were a spectacle in 1960-something, but they're just noise now. It's time to persuade folks, not shout them down for not seeing things exactly your way. But Vietnam did happen, and if we want to move past it we need to collectively remember its lessons and move forward with new tactics that build on past mistakes. Pretending it away keeps us in the same old rut.

5. Equality Is Progress
When the Declaration of Independence said "all men are created equal" it wasn't true. America didn't say "oh well, that's just how it is." It took us time but we started fixing it. Soon, it wasn't just the men who we considered equal. We moved forward, past the existing situation until we created a better one. Why would we stop now? Or even worse, roll back the clock and take away progress? It's not just crazy... it's stupid.

6. Regressives Need Not Apply
We are part of the world now, and we are just one node in the global village. Our past success means zip if we just sit on our laurels. Kids in Okoboji, Iowa have competition... in Asansol, India. They need massive investment in order to develop their skills so they don't just "get by", but kick ass. Preaching flat earth science to them deals them a losing hand right from the start. To dominate we must embrace progress.

7. The Keys To Progress
How do we get to the next level? Protect. Improve. Unite. American Progressives believe that the path to success for our country is in protecting our citizens (defending the homeland and building on past success and failure for our international dealings), improving our country (investing in education; supporting advances in science, medicine, business, the arts and beyond; not destroying the planet while we're here), and uniting our people (working together for a greater purpose beat the Nazis, sent us to the moon and helped build the Internet).